Friday, May 04, 2012

Holiday Rambler motor home maintenance

Since the nice spring weather is finally here in New Mexico, I have started repairing minor issues with the 34' Holiday Rambler MH on the workhorse 8.1 liter chassis, readying it for 'whenever or whatever'. The possibility of requiring rapid mobility in case of a major disruption of 'Rule of Law', or any major problem associated with remaining in one vulnerable location, is now becoming more based on 'possible or likelihood'. The financial problems facing the now historically unprecedented, debt beleaguered USA, could remotely prove to be, problematic? Our present 'leadership' desires the USA to be "More like Europe"... 'in debt' and dependency addicted.

When I filled and pressurized the water system, it sprayed water from a fitting in the 'wet' connection bay. The 'freeze cracked' PVC fitting had expanded and broke during the below freezing winter storage. A small puddle had apparently remained in the low point, after draining and blowing out the system's water lines last Fall. A 3/4" to 1/2" PVC adapter is below where I had installed an air pressurized reservoir, to prevent the 'on demand' pump from running every time a faucet was turned on. I used a small 'Lowe's, home model, diaphragm air ballast tank installed at, pump line 'out' to solve the incessant pump motor run cycles.

The air reservoir tank had apparently bounced low enough over the thousands of miles since initial install, to cause the puddling in the low PVC fitting. Picked up a new plastic fitting, installed and all was good. Raise of the tank with a restraining strap to prevent recurrence, finished the project. Pressure tested, no problem holding pressure for last few days now. Filled the 60 gallon freshwater tank, adding one cup of Chlorine bleach for purification. It naturally diminishes in slight taste, after a week. There is no reason to waste so much fresh water to rinse out 'taste'.

We seldom drink from the reservoir tank water anyway. MH is usually stocked with a sufficient number of drinking water in gallon jugs from Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree gallon drinking water jugs, with little strap handles, are thicker clear plastic and withstand the repeated mountain passes, associated with flexing of pressure in the jugs. The common 1 gallon milky jugs of drinking water, All crack and leak, after a series of high altitude passes. Because of the durability, we regularly refill the empty gallon jugs at each fresh water camp.

Located a couple sets of bright 'single LED' swivel lamps. Putting them all around the seating areas and bedroom. They are AA battery powered and brighter than regular lights. The main House batteries that power all conventional lighting, will last even longer on a charge now, when off grid 'Boon Docking'. The flat screen LCD TV's are another improvement. Being much lighter, they reduce the overall GVW and the front end bounce was reduced substantially after removal of the heavy CRT, mounted high above the driver's cab. Due to low current draw while on the inverter, the 'house' batteries register full charge in the morning, even after hours of watching TV on the inverter at night. Need for the Onan 5500 generator is seldom now. Microwave, toaster and coffee maker is still high amperage load, above capability of inverter for any extended duration.

 I replaced all of the small incandescent 'indicator' lamps scattered around the coach, with individual LED's. I also installed bright outside security indicator LED's, to let me glance at the coach from across the yard, to determine if it needs a charge, or has been disturbed in any way. The battery bank rarely shows parasitic discharge now, even after a week or more of disconnect. The two 'Smart' chargers (one smaller for chassis, one larger, for the coach 4 'golf cart' battery bank) maintain the batteries during long periods of storage.

 I leave the 'built in' system disconnected and Off, during storage. Although somewhat sophisticated in adjustable charge rates, the factory Xantrak unit is not a really 'Smart' Maintainer', and will gradually boil the battery bank, drastically shortening their life.

 I had installed a set of 3 'cheap' amorphous solar panels from Harbor Freight. They put out a small charge advertised (falsely) at 45 watts, but not enough to really maintain the four coach batteries. Plan is to order one big Polycrystalline Solar Panel, to replace the cheap (and weak) HF units.

The plastic cover on the front AC unit is cracking at the mount screws. I found some Epoxy mix that actually bonds to plastic. Repaired and re-enforced the cover, and adjusted the fan compressor motor to let blower squirrel cage, clear the housing (it was rattling when it ran) All is now well on the roof after the storage, just needs a wax job on the fiberglass. NM sun is brutally high in degrading UV.

The roof transition aluminum curve from front to rear, was separating from the sidewall at front driver corner. Found that HR had skimped, in using cheap 1/8" pop rivets, spaced very far apart, to fasten the roof transition to the wall, they broke. Found some large 1/4" pop rivets, 3/4" long, that require a long handled 'pull tool'. HR only had the little ones spaced out a foot apart. New Bigger ones are only 6" apart. Now the roof will stay fastened down, at least at that weakest part ;}

Resealed the seams to ensure waterproof. Gradually getting it ready for next trip...after mates knee is replaced and she can walk again. Hopefully she can then climb the steps without 'Dog Crawling' into and out of the coach. :}

Fuel is always a concern when time is calculated. Marvel Mystery Oil seems to act as a stabilizer during storage. Periodic starting and operation of the engine and generator is advised. The auxiliary containers if/when carried, boost the distance between fuel stops. 75 gallons is in the main tank. 8 miles per gallon is expected, with substantial  improvement during flat land and low wind conditions.

The 4,300# Jeep Grand Cherokee, although easy to shift into 'flat' tow, is history, having been replaced with a much lighter Honda CRV. Mountain passes will be much easier with Honda in tow, as will fuel economy on both units. Late model Jeep was yet another victim of unrealistic federal EPA regulations, because of their restrictions figured 'per gallon', rather than the common sense 'per mile', the Jeep got barely 12.6 mpg around town. Honda CRV easily gets over 20 mpg in same city conditions.

After 7 months storage in the yard, decided to start up the Motor Home for system testing. The regular gasoline fuel is not formulated for storage longevity. Before putting away after last Fall trip, we filled the 75 gallon tank and added a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil, along with a bottle of CD-2 fuel system cleaner. The drive home from Costco did the mixing and circulating.

The 8.1 liter Workhorse engine fired up as if it was just run yesterday. Fuel injection is far better than a carburetor. The 5500 watt auxiliary Onan generator started after two tries. The electric water heater had been filled, then pressurized by the 12 V pump. It's auxiliary heat coil drew about 10 amps, so it was functioning.

 120 AC heat coil in the Norcold refrigerator drew 4 amps, which indicated the heating coil in the exchanger was working. Sometimes there is a ground fault after prolonged storage, preventing the shore power from heating the Norcold unit, without kicking out the GFCI. Running the generator to stabilize the unit's power system, seems to fix that.

The slow reacting, gravity fed Refrigerant takes hours to notice any change. The front and rear roof AC units, both blew cold after zone set on control panel, so that was a successful test. The rear unit needs a little checking for a ticking sound. Next roof trip, will pull cover and check it out as I did for front unit. Suspect is 'squirrel fan to housing' clearance. The Propane units still require a test before everything is acceptable.

The chassis AC blew cold from the dash vents and all systems were stable. Engine run up brought the computer controlled RPM to 3,000 max revs. A half hour run seemed to show satisfactory results throughout coach with no problems. All systems appear good to go. 'When' and of course 'Where'? are the questions to be pondered over the next few months while co-pilot recuperates..


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